As mentioned in my round-up post earlier this week, this year’s PC Gamer Weekender was slightly disappointing. With several stands left empty or occupied by older games such as Battlefield 1942, and publishers or promotions people being sent in place of developers, the event felt as though it was lacking the same buzz captured at other expos such as Rezzed (although I should point out it has only been running for three years).
There was however one little title which managed to catch my eye. Tucked away at the back of the Olympia on a single PC, its pixel art called out to me but sadly went unnoticed by a lot of other gamers at the show and the chair was left unoccupied. A quick search on Google revealed that this was STAY by Appnormals Team: ‘a nail-biting tale of abduction and isolation, where every second counts’.
While the stepson was occupied with Cat Quest, another title published by PQube, Pete and I took the opportunity to have a quick chat with Product Manager Matthew Pellett. He revealed he was pleased we’d pointed this one out because he’d actually signed STAY himself, after checking it out at Gamescom last year and loving the developer’s work.
What would you do if a stranger’s fate rested in your fingertips? That’s the question asked by this conversational adventure where the player talks to Quinn, a young man who has been locked in a dark place where there’s nothing but a computer hooked up to a chat room. He’s in desperate need for help and you’re his only hope: it’s up to you to help him escape and discover who’s behind his kidnapping.
The thing that makes STAY so gripping is the fact it plays out in real-time, meaning every minute spent away from the game is another minute Quinn is left alone. You can drop out of conversations or let him fend for himself – but there may be serious consequences to those actions. Leaving him on his own for too long won’t only affect his behaviour, it could also drive him to the point where he loses his mind.
Every message sent to him via two possible responses therefore matters. He’ll learn to trust you and will share his thoughts if you can prove yourself to be a compassionate ally; but fail and his emotions may work against you. Webcams allow you to spy on Quinn so you can see his reactions while you talk to him or leave him on his own, and it’s important to use this knowledge advantageously to pick up on any lies he may be telling.
The game will feature a 24-chapter story with multiple twists, unlockable rooms, items to collect and multiple ways to die (that probably explains why Pellett told us it wasn’t something which would be suitable for under-18s). There are also secret puzzles to be solved, and in these sections the player takes direct control of Quinn to help him get the better of the conundrums he encounters inside his prison.
You may be wondering why there are no pictures of me playing STAY at the PC Gamer Weekender included in this article. That’s because I didn’t: I’ve come to learn that expos aren’t conducive to experiencing the sort of games I like to play. The noise and the crowds (and often a developer or publisher trying to talk to you) detract from it and diminish the atmosphere a title is trying to create.
I’d rather experience the title for myself at home and that’s why STAY was added straight onto my wishlist ready for when it unlocks on 30 March 2018. Take a look at the official website and Steam page for more information, give the developers a follow on Twitter and Facebook.